You know you are from a Hungarian family when….


You know you are from a Hungarian family when….

We had many submissions from family and friends for this project and it has been a lot of fun to compile this list. Thank you for the many contributions! We tried to narrow the list down to the ones that have the most common experience but as it is with cultural traditions and influences, some families maintained them and others did not. I know I can relate to at least 50% of this list. I hope you can too!


…your friends love to eat at your house when Hungarian food is cooking.

…you saw your mom stretching bread dough to make lángos and while you can eat it with powdered sugar you know lángos is best served with sour cream, garlic, and cheese.

…you have seen chicken feet in your soup!

…paprika and sour cream are considered staples in your kitchen.

…your father always wants his “pancakes” very, very thin because he’s really remembering crepes from his nagymama’s house!

…you cook with bacon grease or lard.

…you like rye toast buttered and rubbed with a garlic clove!

…you have sudden cravings for zsíros kenyér!

…almost every recipe starts with sauteed onions and Szegedi paprika!

…the Christmas season involves kifli, kalács, and beigli!

…you eat bread with lard, slices of onion and paprika.

…your grandmother goes on the lookout for ‘pigs’ feet’.

…you love to have paprika sprinkled kocsonya for breakfast.

…eating dinner food for breakfast is the norm & pancakes (palacsinta) are a dessert.

…you think sour cream and paprika should have their own spots on the food pyramid!

…you know what hurka is, miss having at New Years, & know which butcher still makes it.

…every family recipe begins with a pound of butter

…everyone gets excited about eating paprikas szalonna for breakfast with raw onions and rye bread.

…your friends open your fridge and it contains 4 lbs of butter, 5 blocks of cream cheese and 3 cartons of sour cream!

…the kitchen smells like cabbage cooking.

…You say please hand me the _____ and before you can finish the Grandkids hand you the paprika.

…the pots of daily soup are on the stove steeping

…you use sour cream like most people use ranch dressing or catsup.

…you happily eat kolbász for breakfast.

…your kids wake up and ask for “Bundás Kenyér”.

…everything starts with onions and usually ends with paprika.

…store brand paprika won’t even be considered as an option.

…you see a bowl of pig intestine casings soaking in water and the meat grinder clamped to the kitchen table.

…you’re not afraid to eat poppyseed kalács the night before your job’s drug test. grew up with catching the chicken yourself for Sunday soup, watching your Grandmother cut it’s neck, save the blood, make the best soup you’ve ever had in your whole life, including the feet.

…you own multiple containers of paprika.

…you introduce all your friends to Hungarian food by cooking it!

…growing up you fought over who got to eat the marrow from the soup bone.

…you keep your paprika in the refrigerator or freezer

…you know what a ‘bacon roast’ is and you occasionally host one.



…your mom breaks the “fakanál” on your back as you’re fleeing the kitchen!

…you cannot get married without cabbage rolls being served at your reception.

…you know the song Az a Szép!

…you have embroidered doilies covering every wooden furniture surface of your home.

…you love the sound of a violin.

…you know the name for Transylvania is Erdély!

…St. Nicholas visits on December 6th, leaving Baby Jesus to bring you your Christmas presents at midnight on December 24th.

…even if you don’t like szaloncukor it’s tradition to have it hanging on the Christmas tree.

…you’ve purchased a bogrács in Hungary and brought it back to the U.S. in your carry on luggage.

…you have a poster of the historical Hungary and it’s counties on a wall of your home.

…you speak in a louder voice than anyone at work, and then you realize you are carrying your family’s Hungarian volume level with you and must tone it down.

…there is an “Isten Hozott” sign by the door.

…you cheer for Hungary during the Olympics.

…you know what it is like to have every flat surface covered with homemade noodles drying on sheets in your house.

…the first trade skill you learn as a child is how to grind nuts for the nut rolls using a 100 year old hand crank grinder clamped on the kitchen counter.

…you know your Name Day!

…you come home from school & the fridge has been emptied so the plates of jellied pigs feet (kocsonya) can go in!

…your house is decorated in Herend and Zsolnay figurines.

…you come home from school & garlic & chili pepper necklaces are drying in the sun

…you NEVER argue with your nagymama – even if it kills you to keep your mouth shut!

…you learn early in life that one comes from Buda or Pest, but not both.

…you know about the Treaty of Trianon and what that meant for Hungary.

…you know the village where your family came from in greater Hungary.

…you know what Sósborszesz (menthol alcohol) is and when to use it!



…Americans murder your last name!

…you can cuss in Hungarian.

…you know what the accents mean on words, when you know how sz and cs sounds. And it’s gulyás, not goulash.

…you have beautiful Hungarian names in your family tree.

…you recognize Hungarian names in the news.

…you notice Hungarian names in movie and TV credits.

…you know how to say the Common Table Prayer in Hungarian though you may have never seen it written out.

…you name your pets using Hungarian words like “Cicus” and “Kutya”, etc.

…your last name is MAGYAR!

…you have or had a dog named “Bodri”.

…your email address and/or passwords utilize Hungarian words

….you know the difference between segged and Szeged.

…you are familiar with the Hungarian National Anthem and maybe even know the first verse!

…you know how to read, write, and/or speak some Hungarian



…you’ve tried pálinka and try to get all your friends to try it!

…you know that “real” kool-aid comes from a bottle of raspberry syrup and tap water or the best raspberry “pop” is homemade with raspberry syrup and soda or mineral water!

…your Nagypapa made his own wine, and his basement is filled with wine barrels.

…you know what Bull’s Blood is.

…you have tried Unicum.


Do you have additions to this list? We would love to see them!

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10 People have left comments on this post

» Matthew G.Magyar said: { Feb 5, 2020 - 12:02:41 }

I am a Magyar and I am proud of it my grandfather came from Budapest hungry in 1912 my grandmother came from Budapest Hungary in 1913 my grandmother maiden name was Vargo. My grandparents met and settled down in a little town called Harmony New Jersey.

» Barbara Mack said: { Feb 6, 2020 - 10:02:09 }

Love these, and can relate to many. How about: begin counting with the thumb as #1?

» Liz said: { Feb 19, 2020 - 07:02:04 }

Yes! That is another one!

» Michele Adaline said: { Feb 7, 2020 - 11:02:55 }

– Dobos Torta is the go to cake for family celebrations, and yes you grind those nuts yourself!
-Coffee buttercream is THE ONLY frosting for that Torta!
-You have old recipe cards that have ingredients listed, but no directions on how to make the recipe
-You own a variety of Hungarian church cookbooks, handed down of course and at least 1 is written in Hungarian
-Canned or dried chicken soup is considered a sacrilege in your home
-You know how to make your own sauerkraut
-The holidays find a bottle of Tokaj Aszu’ on your table
-You have at least 1 China Hungarian doll in the traditional Matyo village costume
-You have 1-2 items for your home that have the Matyo embroidery on them
-You know what Herend is
-You know the name of every famous Hungarian in history
– You know how to dance the czardas

» Miriam Saif said: { Apr 24, 2020 - 04:04:25 }

I lived in Trieste, which was once the major port of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and they had an excellent pastry shop with this speciality. It became my favorite … even better than Sachertorte! However, now that I live in Rome, I can definitely say that the best Dobos Torta is made in the Jewish Ghetto… even my Hungarian friends here have confirmed this!

» Liz said: { May 16, 2020 - 06:05:34 }

Thanks for the tip! I will have to check that out! ~ Liz

» Joe Uveges said: { Jul 13, 2020 - 10:07:47 }

Loved this list so much. Probably very familiar with 40 % of these but so many made me literally laugh out loud. Both grandparents came over from the old country. Uveges/Danyi on my DAd’s side (Portage, PA) . My mothers side was Iglar/Griessler (Delanson, NY but originally settled in Norwalk, Conn.) I don’t speak anymore but both my kids had palacsinta’s for breakfast hundreds of times. God Bless j

» Liz said: { Aug 5, 2020 - 02:08:43 }

Thanks for your note, Joe!

Yay for palacsinta! And I am so glad it made you laugh!


» Laura said: { Aug 6, 2020 - 11:08:58 }

I grew up with three wonderful Hungarian grandparents and a wonderful Hungarian step-grandfather. My mother’s parents came from Papa while my father’s mother and step-grandfather were from Szendro. These brought back so many fond memories! I experienced a majority of these! Thank you!

» Liz said: { Aug 20, 2020 - 05:08:23 }

Laura — that is awesome! I hope you are able to encourage others in your family to pass on our amazing heritage! ~ Liz